Article 93: Coffee etiquette in the journey to create the future
Formed from practical experiences and life aspirations, the coffee enjoyment rituals continue to participate in shaping and promoting the development of each individual and society.
The ritual of wishing for peace and prosperity
Originating from the land of Ethiopia in the 9th century, the early Middle Ages, by the 15th century, coffee was widespread throughout the Muslim world. Over hundreds of years, associated with the spiritual social life at that time, coffee – a divine drink, always held a sacred position in the life and culture of the community where coffee is present.
With early experiences since the discovery of coffee as a gift from God, that the scorched coffee beans create an aroma that awakens the spirit, Ethiopians roasted the coffee beans, pounded them and mixed with water to enjoy the heavenly favor and talked about great prophecies. Over time, with the belief in God and the function of coffee and the social institutions at that time, enjoying coffee has become a traditional ritual, a spiritual ritual carrying the wish for prosperity, peace in Ethiopian culture and Arab countries.
From space, time, bartender, costumes, tools, coffee ingredients, brewing water, to the preparation steps of roasting, grinding, pounding, boiling coffee, the way to enjoy, all are meticulously selected and solemnly performed as a ritual. Ethiopians perform the coffee ritual with the belief that God will bless a new life with many new creative ideas. The Harar people, an important cultural and commercial center of Ethiopia, perform a coffee ritual every morning, offer a coffee pot and pray “the coffee pot gives peace, the coffee pot gives the kids maturity, gives us prosperity. Please protect us from the devil, give us rain and herbs.” Especially, when there are important issues in the community that need to be discussed, resolved or decided, Ethiopians will conduct a coffee ceremony as a major community event. After enjoying coffee, they will discuss and find ideas to solve specific problems. Meanwhile, the Muslim community has a belief that coffee is a gift that Allah directed Angel Gabriel to Prophet Mohammed to invigorate and strengthen the spirit in conquering the infidels. Therefore, coffee has become a cultural and religious rite of the Muslim nation, an indispensable part of religious ceremonies and is drunk in mosques and monasteries.
After popularizing, entering the secular life of the Muslim world, the coffee ceremony became a symbol of hospitality, generosity, and aspiration for peace. Ethiopians perform the coffee ritual at any time at home to welcome friends, to show respect and cohesion; the coffee ceremony is an integral part of the traditional Arab reception ceremony. The host selects the coffee ingredients meticulously, performs the formal preparation rituals, and all pray to Allah and then enjoy coffee in the Majlis space – a special place to exchange knowledge and discuss stories of the family, the community… Each guest is offered three cups of coffee. The first cup is al-dhaif, which represents peace. The second cup is called al-kaif, which means friendship. The third cup, called al-saif, symbolizes loyalty and protection. Offering coffee in sophisticated coffee cups is a way for the Ottomans to honor the dignity of those who enjoy coffee with them. This has contributed to promoting the development of a system of handicraft industries to create tools and utensils with special artistic value in addition to the development of artistic and cultural life with countless verses, songs, paintings composed to describe the feelings of coffee drinkers and coffee cultural identity.
To the desire to create the future
Coffee originated in Ethiopia, establishing the first coffee civilization at the height of the Ottoman Empire. By the 17th century, coffee was introduced to Europe, spreading almost at the same time as the spirit of the Enlightenment period in Western Europe. Italy was the first nation to use coffee in Europe and was the pioneer innovator for this drink, creating a new coffee enjoyment ritual associated with technological elements and scientific progress, creating a new wave of contemplation culture in Europe.
From the time coffee was introduced in Venice in the 1600s until the end of the 19th century, Italians enjoyed Ottoman-style boiled coffee or filter coffee like the Germans, British, and French. However, with the nostalgia and pride of a people, the country that was once the center of typical civilizations of humanity, Italians strive to create their own new way of viewing, identifying the people’s soul, the nation’s quality.
In 1930, with the development of the first industrial revolution, the application of steam power to mechanization of production, Italian scientists researched and invented a machine using steam pressure to extract essentials and original aroma of coffee beans in the fastest time. From this feature, the term Espresso was coined and entered the Italian dictionary with the meaning “Coffee can be served on the spot and just for you”.
Espresso is not just a preparation device, the name of a type of coffee but has become a style of enjoyment, an art of living imbued with Italian identity. Starting from the invention of “Innovation of machines to prepare and serve coffee drinks on the spot”, then the culture of standing and enjoying at the bar, corresponding to the life philosophy “Fare Meno e Farlo Meglio”, understood as Discover greatness in simple things.
From the sublimation progress of the coffee contemplation style, Espresso brings a sense of the extraordinary of man. That is the role of man’s mastery in life, mastering the laws of nature, as well as creating a context for people to express their position and aspirations. Therefore, Espresso has become a symbol of a new lifestyle. This distinctive designation has made Italian-style coffee the typical coffee civilization of mankind.
Coffee in early Europe was mainly served to the upper class, middle class and men in public shops. By 1933, the invention of the Moka Express (Moka Pot) by engineer Luigi di Ponti (1904 – 1993) continued to create a new “revolution” in the culture of enjoying coffee, making it possible for many people to enjoy Espresso at home and for women to have easier access to coffee.
The Moka pot is not only an important part of the Italian coffee style, but is also honored as an industry icon when it comes to the use of aluminum in the manufacture of kitchen items, as well as the octagonal design of the kettle. The feature of geometric symmetry motifs was popular in the 1930s. Moreover, the appearance of Moka pots has contributed to erase the boundaries of enjoying coffee in shops and at home, especially, bringing equality. Starting from Espresso, Moka pot… to the terms Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte… created by Italians, created a unique Italian coffee style, expressing the aspiration to shape national identity in contemporary life to create the future. As soon as coffee entered Europe, the early capitalist class at that time promoted coffee as a drink of the “humanist era”. With the function that can promote the creativity of the intellect and the pace of work, coffee has become an energy source for intellectual and physical sublimation, providing the necessary catalyst to create a knowledge society. The process of continuously improving the style of coffee enjoyment, Italian coffee style has continued and promoted the brilliant civilization of the Italians, shaping and representing the whole European style of coffee enjoyment. The symbol of modern life – state of the art, full of vitality, dominated the coffee world during the 19th century. Along with the sublimation of coffee, Italy from the weakest in Europe has become one of the strongest countries. The economy boomed, artistic values revived. Cities with typical and famous coffee culture such as Rome, Venice, Milan, Padua, Turin… have become famous centers of Italian culture.
Stemming from the aspiration for a global community of Comprehensive Success – Happiness in Body – Spirit – Mind, from the enthusiasm in researching the history and culture of human coffee, Trung Nguyen Legend has been creating, perfecting the Thiền (meditation) coffee civilization with the desire to bring clarity in human vision and mind, towards a harmonious balance with the universe, nature, and surrounding community. From the Ottoman coffee civilization that honored coffee as a spiritual drink with rituals expressing the desire for peace and prosperity according to the judgment of God, to the Roman coffee civilization that considered coffee as energy enlightening the mind, shaping the being to create the future. The Thiền coffee civilization with a drop of awakening coffee carries with it the philosophy of step back, coffee is likened to a source of light that leads people to find awakening, insight into their own mission to operate their own life in an inherently harmonious way with the values of Truth – Compassion – Beauty.
In the journey of summarizing the past, contemplating the present and creating the future, Trung Nguyen Legend has filtered and converged the quintessence of the 3 global coffee civilizations Ottoman – Roman – Thiền in each product, service, and project difference and speacialty, bringing a comprehensive view of the value of coffee, aiming to build a successful and happy new lifestyle for the human community, Coffee Lifestyle – Success Lifestyle – Mindfulness Lifestyle.
Readers are cordially invited to watch the series of Coffee Tao videos posted on https://bit.ly/caphetrietdao
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Source: “The Philosophical Way of Coffee” – copyright by Trung Nguyen Legend